Thursday, July 29, 2010

“Destroy this Temple!”


And it came to pass that the Jewish Passover was at hand, and Jesus went to Jerusalem. Jesus went into the Temple. There He found in the Temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves for sacrifice and the moneychangers who collected the half-shekel tax sitting at their tables in their benches. And he took a whip and drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep and the oxen; and poured out the money of the moneychangers and knocked over their tables. He began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves for sacrifice (John 2:13-15). He threw out all the merchants and their customers and he would not allow anyone to carry wares through the Temple (Mark 11:16). And he said unto them that sold doves, "Take these things out of here! Don't make my Father's house a marketplace!" (John 2:16). This was the signal to act. Before Jesus arrived in the temple his supporters were already in position anticipating his arrival. The men, about three hundred, had already taken up their positions in the Court of All Nations. There were already around two thousand people in the temple. The temple priests and the Romans didn't notice anything out of the ordinary because it was common for large groups to gather together during major festivals such as Passover. At his pre-arranged signal, his followers overturned the money-changers tables, liberated the animals and set the birds free, and drove the animals out of the courtyard, rescuing them from sacrifice. The men moved in concert like a military unit. The vendors and all their goods were thrown out as well. The venders and the money changers were kicked, punched, dragged, shoved, slapped and hit with whips and violently evicted from the Temple courtyard. The moneychangers yelled, shouted and cursed. Some of them attempted to fight back but were quickly subdued by Jesus' followers. Jesus and his followers prevented people from transvering the temple carrying wares. The temple police were outnumbered. The Roman garrison was unable to react due to the speed with which Jesus seized control of the Temple Mount. Jesus began preaching in the Temple saying, "Is it not written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nationalities"? And yet you have made it a den of thieves!" (Here Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. These verses are quoted in Mark 11:17, Matthew 21:13 and Luke 19:46.) Jesus said, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice, not burnt offerings but rather knowledge of God (Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:13,12:7). They shall not hurt or destroy in all of my holy mountain; for earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9). Thus saith the Lord, "I desire compassion-not sacrifices! I desire mercy-not a blood sacrifice!""


Jesus with his whip drove out all the animals and all the moneychangers (Matthew 21:12,13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45, 46, John 2:13-23). His twelve apostles and his seventy disciples along with hundreds of his followers who volunteered helped him to evict all the merchants and to seize control of the Temple Mount. Jesus did this to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah that says, "There will no longer be merchants in the House of the Lord." (Zechariah 14:21) (The Hebrew says that there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of Yahweh. However, the Aramaic version which was the version of the Bible the people were familiar with, says "merchant." It is likely that the Canaanites referred to in the Hebrew were merchants selling wares in the Temple at the time of Zechariah.)

And Jesus preached in the temple, preaching from the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, saying, "Thus saith the Lord, "The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye will build for me? Where is the place of my rest? For everything hath my hand made, and all those things that have been, saith the Lord; but to this man I will look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and he that trembles at my word. He that killeth a bull is as if he had killed a man; he that sacrifices a lamb, as if he had cut off a dogs neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he had offered pigs blood; he that burneth incense, as if he had blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in these abominations. They have chosen to persist in their delusions, therefore I will bring what they fear most upon them, the destruction of this temple, because, when I called they did not answer, when I spoke they did not hear, but they did this evil before mine eyes and chose those things in which I do not delight (Isaiah 66:1-4)." "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust not in lying words, saying, "The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord!" For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; If you oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and stop shedding this innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. Yet behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, "We are delivered to do all these abominations?" Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I, even I have seen it, saith the Lord. But go now unto the ruins of my prior temple which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but you would not listen; and I called you, but you refused to answer me. Therefore I will do unto this house, which is called by My Name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to the Temple at Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the seed of Ephraim. Do they provoke me to anger?" saith the Lord, "Do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?" Therefore thus saith the Lord God; "Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched." Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel; "You continue in your defiance with your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and your eating of flesh, for I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you." But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. But thou shalt say unto them, "This is a nation that doesn't obey the voice of the Lord their God, nor do they receive correction. Truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth. Cut off thine hair in shame, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath. For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the Lord: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. And the carcasses of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall frighten them away. Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate." (Jeremiah 7:3-32) "As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man-even so do the priests kill!" (Hosea 6:9) "They have many altars for sin and they have become altars for sinning-God has given us a great law-but they have invented strange things." Thus said the Lord, "For the sacrifices of my offerings they sacrifice flesh and eat it, but the Lord does not accept these sacrifices! These "sin offerings" are sinful offerings! Now instead of forgiving you through these animal sacrifices, these offerings will cause Him to remember their iniquities and punish their sins! For Israel has forgotten his Maker and has built temples-but I will send fire upon his city and destroy his temple!" (Hosea 8:11-12).

"Sacrifice and offering You, O my God, did not desire! My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offerings You did not require. Now I say, "Behold, I come; as it is written in the ancient scrolls about me!" I delight to do your will, O my God, for your law is within my heart. I shall proclaim the Good News of Righteousness within the Great Assembly. Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, for Yourself know. I have not hidden your righteousness within my heart. I have declared Your trustworthiness and Your Salvation. I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the Great Assembly. Do not withhold your tender mercies, O Lord, but let your lovingkindness and truth go forth." (Psalm 40:6-11, Hebrews 10:5-9. It should be noted that the New Testament at Hebrews 10:5 specifically states that Jesus spoke these very words.) "I am the Son of Man! I am the Second Adam. It is I who am Adam's Son. I will inaugurate a restoration of all things in the Kingdom of God (Acts 3:21). I will restore the harmony between earth, animal and man that existed in the Garden of Eden. In that day I will make a New Covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the living things of the earth. Bow and the sword I will shatter from the earth, to make them to lie down in peace and safety (Hosea 2:18).The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat. The calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze together, their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like an ox. The nursing child shall put his hand in the vipers den and it will not harm him (Isaiah 11:6-8, 65:25).They shall not hurt or destroy in all of my holy mountain; for earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea!" (Isaiah 11:9, Habakkuk 2:14). "I will praise the name of God with a song and magnify him with thanksgiving. This is what pleases the Lord rather than an offering of an ox or a bull that has horns and hooves. The humble shall see this and be glad. And you who seek after God, your hearts shall live! For the Lord hears the cries of the poor and he does not despise those who are enslaved." (Psalm 69:30-33). Jesus spoke to those who were excluded from worshiping God in the Temple. He said, "Let not the non-Jews who follow the Lord say, "The Lord has surely separated me from his people." Nor let the eunuch say, "I am as a dead tree since I cannot beget a child." Thus says the Lord to the eunuchs that worship Me, "To them I will give in My house and within my inner courts a space to worship and a name better than that of sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that will never be cut off." Also to the gentiles who follow God and love the name of the Lord, even those will I bring into my holy mountain and they shall be joyful inside my house of prayer and their worship shall be acceptable there, for thus saith the Lord, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 56:3-7). "For from the rising of the sun to its setting My Name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for My Name is great among the nations but you have profaned it, says Yahweh Saboath" (Malachi 1:11-12). Hear the word of the Lord, every man who honors God, "Your brothers who hate you, who exclude you for my name's sake, they will be put to shame! A voice will be heard from the city of Jerusalem, crying "Destruction!" This voice will be heard coming from the Temple. It is the voice of the Lord who is rendering recompense to His enemies there! (Isaiah 66:5-6)" Many of the people therefore having heard these sayings said, "Truly this is the Prophet" (John 7:40).

And the Sadducees and the Temple authorities sought to arrest him and to seize him my force. And they called the officer over the Temple Police unto them and asked him, "Why haven't you arrested him?" And he answered and said, "No man has ever spoken the way this man speaks." Then the Pharisees answered them, "Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who are ignorant of the Law of Moses are cursed." Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish counsel and a secret admirer of Jesus, said unto them, "Does our law judge any man, before it hears him out, and discovers what he does?" They answered and said unto him, "Are you also of Galilee? Search, and look in the Bible, for out of Galilee comes no prophets (John 7:44-53)." (The priest is wrong. Jonah, for one, came from Galilee (2 Kings 14:25).) They looked to arrest him but they saw the crowds and they became fearful for they saw that the crowds were with him (Mark 11:18). The chief priests and the scribes and the elders then came to him and they said to him, "By what authority do you do these things? And who gave you the authority to do this?" Jesus answered and said to them, "I will ask of you one question, answer me and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it of heaven or from man? Answer me." And they reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we say, "From heaven, he will say, "Why then did you not believe him?" But if we say, "Of men…"" They were afraid because all of the people were convinced that John was indeed a prophet. (John's baptism of Jesus was the means through which Jesus' messianic identity was revealed and proclaimed. John viewed Jesus as the Messiah. If John was a prophet, then Jesus is the Messiah. Also, John's baptism was a baptism for the forgiveness of sins. If John's baptism was valid, then animal sacrifices no longer were.) And they answered and said to Jesus, "We cannot tell."" And Jesus said, "Then I won't tell you by what authority I do these things." (Mark 11:27-33)

(Jesus' authority was proclaimed by the voice of the Father that spoke to him upon his Baptism saying, "You are My Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased." This revelation given by John was also in John's identifying Jesus as a prophet and the Messiah. John's baptism for the forgiveness of sin also signaled an end for the animal sacrificial system and gave Jesus the authority for ending the sacrificing of animals.)


Then the leaders said to Jesus, "We demand that you give us a sign to prove to us that you have this authority." Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "We have been building this temple for forty-six years and you will raise it up in just three days?" (John 2:18-19). (This dates this incident to 26-28 A.D.)


Some of the people were confused. They repeated his words ascribing to him the words, "I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days." (Matthew 26:61) Others said, "He said, "This Temple will be destroyed and it will take only three days for not one stone to be left upon another."" Still others said, "No, we heard him say, "I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands."" (Mark 14:58)Yet another said, "I heard him say, "I will destroy this house and none shall be able to build it again."" (Thomas 1:71)


Jesus then spoke to the priests and the Sadducees, "Tell me what you think. A certain man had two sons; and he came and said to the first, "Son, go and work in my vineyard." And the son answered his father and said, "No, I will not." But afterward he relented and went and worked in the vineyard. And the father came to the other son and said, "Go work in my vineyard." The other son said, "Yes, sir. I will go." But he didn't. Which one of the two was it that did the will of his father? They said unto him, "The first." Jesus answered them saying, "Of a certain truth I say unto you that the hedonists and the prostitutes will go into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptizer came to you in the way of righteousness, but you wouldn't believe him; but the sinners and prostitutes did believe in him. And yet, even after seeing this, you still refused to repent and believe (Matthew 21:28-32)."


There was a division among the people over him. Many in the crowd proclaimed that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Hearing this some of those of the religious establishment wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him (John 7:32,30). The soldiers and the Temple police awaited orders to seize Jesus and disperse the crowd by force. But they were fearful for they looked upon the crowds that followed them (Mark 12:12). Some of them said, "If we attempt to arrest him now, a revolt could break out." When the Temple police and the soldiers saw Jesus talking with the priests they thought that perhaps they were negotiating a peaceful settlement. They wanted to have him arrested but were afraid of the crowds. One of the priests said, "What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him and the Romans will come and take away this holy place and our nation." Answering him, Caiaphas, who was the High Priest, said, "You know nothing at all! Haven't you considered that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people so that the whole nation will be saved?" We will wait until a more opportune time and seize him when he is alone (John 11:45-51)." The chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way to arrest him by treachery, and put him to death. They said, "Not during the festival, for fear of a riot among the people (Mark 14:1-2)." Judas the son of Simon, called Iscariot, saw Malchus, the servant of the High Priest in the crowd. Judas surreptitiously approached him and whispered in his ear, "If you want Jesus I am your man. I will be you man on the inside, for a fee of course." Malchus went to his master and whispered this news in his ear. Caiaphas looked upon Judas and they smiled at one another. Caiaphas handed Malchus a coin which he nonchalantly took and pressed into Judas's hand. Kaipha then approached Judas. "Who was that man you were speaking to?" "What man?" replied Judas. "The man with the big ears." Kaipha answered. Judas said, "I spoke to no man. I was only warning the mob to keep their distance from Jesus." Kaipha dismissed the incident and paid it no more heed (John 18:10).


Now some of them who were from Jerusalem said, "Isn't this the man the priests seek to destroy? But look! He speaks boldly and they don't try to stop him. Do the rulers know indeed that this man is truly the Christ?" But other said, "We know where this man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from." (John 7:25-27).


And Thomas spoke unto Thaddeus, "Jesus has fulfilled the prophecy that states, "Zeal for your house has consumed me!" But then Thaddeus turned and said, "Yes, and yet that scripture can also be read, "Zeal for your house shall destroy me."" (John 2:17, Psalm 69:9 Psalm 69 is referred to as a prophecy of the crucifixion by all four Gospels: Psalm 69:21, Matthew 27:34, 48, Mark 15:23, 36, Luke 23:36, John 19:28-30.)

The Roman soldiers stood by looking down upon the temple from the Antonian Fortress and stood ready to strike as did the Temple Police. They allowed the crowds to disperse and avoided bloodshed.

Jesus hid himself and went out of the Temple, going through the midst of them, hidden in the crowds and thus he passed by. And so he escaped from their hands (John 8:59). And when evening had fallen, he went out of the city (Mark 11:19).

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